Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fairy's Fire

This herb is burnt, and the smoke inhaled, by a type of fairy called Rasta-fairy-uns. It causes them to become lighter, and allows them to fly.

Most intelligent creatures are far bigger and heavier than fairies, and so the smoke only makes them slightly lighter.

Scholars who have tested the herb say that it has various other effects, which they summarise as "far out". They intend to put out a more detailed warning, but haven't got around to it yet.

As a result of these warnings, Fairy's Fire is banned in many places. However it is cultivated and used openly in the Rasta-Fairy-Uns own country, the Nether Nether Lands.

Monday, August 30, 2010

...A Small Pot With Antlers...

......a small pot with antlers, which emitted clouds of remarkable gasses when the prongs were tweaked; an ivory horn through which sounded voices from the past; a small stage where costumed imps stood ready to perform comic antics; an object like a cluster of crystal grapes, each affording a blurred view into one of the demon-worlds; a baton sprouting sweetmeats of assorted flavor; an ancient ring engraved with runes; a black stone surrounded by nine zones of impalpable color.

Jack Vance.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tantaram's Tremendous Transparency

This spell renders the target's flesh and blood (but not their internal organs or bones) transparent.

For the duration of the spell, the target will be unable to lie.

The name of their true love will also be written, in letters of gold so tiny that no eye could see them, on their heart. Some say that the word 'good' or 'evil' will appear on those of appropriate character.

It is said that the witch Zohar Longshanks discovered a new version of this spell, stronger than the old as stock is to soup. The effect was permanent, so much so that a parent would pass it on to their child. She is said to have cast it on herself and a few followers, and started a community on an isolated island. Stories disagree as to whether the island is a paradise of perfect truth and honesty, or a nightmare where not even thoughts are private.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Abysmal Plain

This sea-battered and wind-swept plain is home to little but rocks, wild dogs, and the temples of senile and forgotten gods. It does however hold the goblin-city of Tok, built in the shape of a huge wooden fort. Tok is rumoured to be rent by a struggle for leadership between two fierce goblin champions, Al Gore and Sarah Impalin'.

The other notable settlement on the Abysmal Plain, or rather floating above it, is the unapproachable floating castle of Arkeem.

Cats, dogs and frogs regularly fall from the castle, to fall to earth on a particular part of the Plain. The animals generally have parachutes, but sometimes fail to open. As a result, the traveller should beware of falling animals, as well as wild dogs and feral cats. The parachutes are of fine silk, and local goblins value them as material for clothing.

The motives of the inhabitants of Arkeem are unknown. It is speculated that they are unwanted pets, or some kind of offering. The sage Inkosi Kaas and her followers claim that the animals are letters in the alphabet of Arkeem, and spell out a great message to mankind. They live in a nunnery dedicated to recording and someday translating this message. Due to their belief that each type of animal may represent a different letter, the place is a centre of expertise on the various breeds of cats, dogs and frogs. The nunnery also manufactures protective steel parasols.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The House of Ill-Ease

The owners of this house spent the last thirty years of their life overseeing constant additions to their house. It is filled with such things as furnished rooms with windows but no doors, staircases that lead nowhere, an apparent cupboard which turns out to be a corridor, and that corridor leading to a dead end, and so on.

Nor did they limit themselves to the house; for a network of tunnels runs under the grounds, without apparent purpose. A person might enter a tunnel behind a false bookcase in the house, and find themselves exiting in an empty field. It is said that the owners never even used the tunnels.

Some say that they sought to give charity to those they employed, without injuring their pride. Others say that they were cursed to die when they stopped building, and that having exhausted the family fortune they did indeed die. Yet that same fortune, according to others, is hidden somewhere in the grounds. Still others say that the house makes sense if viewed from an angle beyond the normal three dimensions.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Common Telelelene Names

The distinction between first and last names is slight among the Telelelenes. Most names can serve for either (though no one has the name first and last name). Many names can also be given to both males and females.

The second name may, but does not always, indicate family. Some family lines will give the same first name to their children, or have one such name for boys and another for girls, or a special name to the first-born of each generation. Some surnames are more along the lines of nicknames, given by the person's acquaintances, sometimes in adulthood. Yet a person with such a name may give it to their children, so that it starts to be used as a family name.

Many Telelelenes, perhaps one in every four or five, have but one name.

The custom of having a middle name is unknown.

It should be noted that some items on the following list have two or more words, but are considered by the Telelelenes to be a single name.

There is little difference in names between one race and another, aside from particular religious groups and recent immigrants, since the cosmopolitan Telelelenes will use any name that they like the sound of. Thus new waves of immigration may change the names of the cityfolk out of proportion to their numbers. This tendency to innovation is counter-balanced by the common practice of consulting fortune-tellers when choosing a name, who tend to recommend names dignified by a famous sage, hero or ruler.

Note that this list only relates to birth-names. Sorcerers are often given, or give themselves, names such as Man of Hunger. Likewise, Telelelenes give cognomen or nicknames to famous people, which replace the second name if one exists. Thus the explorer Haroun Timeandtide became Haroun the Wretched. This is simliar to the practice in our world of giving names to historical rulers (such as William the Conquerer or Nicholas the Bloody). However in Teleleli it is applied during the person's life, and may be applied to explorers, philosophers and the like as well as rulers.

  1. Abanazir
  2. Agatha3 7
  3. Agnes3 7
  4. Ajibayo1
  5. Ambrosia3 5
  6. Ammat-Baal2
  7. Anaxagoras4 5
  8. Appolonia2
  9. Arnheld4 6
  10. Arnthrud2
  11. Artemisios1
  12. Athousandapologies
  13. Atkins4 6
  14. Barelegs6
  15. Beloved
  16. Be-Steadfast
  17. Betrys2
  18. Biddy3 7
  19. Blood-On-The-Arm
  20. Boneless
  21. Bright Skin
  22. Brightness
  23. Bukawayo
  24. Cathlin3 7
  25. Charis2
  26. Chariton1
  27. Crumhorn
  28. Damael
  29. Deanna3 7
  30. Dionysia2
  31. Djemmela3 5
  32. Dodekatheon1
  33. Ektor4 5
  34. Epaminondas1
  35. Euphemia3 5
  36. Few-Clothes
  37. Freygerd2
  38. Gadabout
  39. Geirmund1
  40. Goodenough6
  41. Goody3 7
  42. Greedyguts6
  43. Grimhildr2
  44. Halfempty
  45. Halfull6
  46. Hassan1
  47. Hekabe2
  48. Hekabe3 5
  49. Hekatotaratos1
  50. Highpants6
  51. Hisvet3 5
  52. Iakkos4 5
  53. Ichabod4 5
  54. Idris
  55. Ingrid3 7
  56. Ingvar4 5
  57. Ishtar-rabi-at2
  58. Isisnofret2
  59. Jobsworth
  60. Kallistrate2
  61. Kittybiscuits
  62. Lackland6
  63. Leofric1
  64. Longshanks6
  65. Macabee
  66. Macout
  67. Neferu2
  68. Notsoblind
  69. Nur-ishtar1
  70. Obadiah4 5
  71. Olwen2
  72. Owl-Waits-For-The-Moon
  73. Padrath
  74. Perdus
  75. Perilandera2
  76. Prudence3 7
  77. Ragnvald1
  78. Seti1
  79. She-Is-Not-Sterile3
  80. Sidebottom
  81. Sigrid3 5
  82. Sigrun2
  83. Silka3 5
  84. Skallagrim1
  85. Snorri4 6
  86. Solemn7
  87. Sparrow
  88. Sun
  89. Taruk1
  90. Tasmetum-sharrat2
  91. Temperance7
  92. Tibbletibtub
  93. Timeandtide
  94. Two Souls
  95. Ummi-waqrat2
  96. Viola3 7
  97. Violet3 7
  98. Wobblebottom
  99. Yashub-yahad1
  100. Young Jewel
1 This name is used as a first name, or single name, for males only. It may be used as a second name for either gender.
2 This name is used as a first name, or single name, for females only. It may be used as a second name for either gender.
3 This name is used for females only.
4 This name is used for males only.
5 This name is never used as a second name. It can be used as a first or single name.
6 This name is never used as a single name. It can be used as a first or second name.
7 This name is only used as a first name, never as a second or single name.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hidden Somewhere on the Referee's Map...

Hidden somewhere on the referee's map are the treasures, the gold, the magic ring, the laser cannon... Perhaps an ancient magic race created a city or a temple which subsequent ages have buried. The original inhabitants have all died or migrated off, although their magic spells remain in full force. Bands of wandering orcs move into the upper chambers. Giant rats infest the corridors, feeding on the bodies of unlucky adventurers. An evil wizard finds new magic powers in the ancient city, and he sets up his own guards and traps... Dragons and giants loot the surrounding countryside, and over the ages they accumulate fabulous wealth.

John Eric Holmes.

Monday, August 23, 2010


The reader of penny romances, or the viewer of the cinematic works of Mr Douglas Fairbanks, would have no difficulty in recognising a pirate, could they meet one. And indeed it is almost impossible to venture down the docks of Teleleli (or any city of great wealth but modest virtue) without bumping into a drunken vagabond on shore leave, or as the pirates call it, "arrrrr and arrrrr". Our hypothetical viewer would be surprised to learn that they beheld one of the better-behaved of the crew; pirates who commit minor offenses are frequently voted the punishment of being confined to the ship during shore leave (a punishment known as "yo-ho-home detention"). They would note with approval the pirate's harlequinesque clothing, drawn from all corners of the world, and their healthy frame, indicative of a vigorous outdoor life, marred no doubt with some scars. Perhaps they are accompanied by a monkey, or a foul-mouth parrot scarce more gaudy than they. Their only puzzlement would arise from the lack of pistol (the ship-board equivalent being arrows designed to set the opposing ship on fire), the pirates' expertise with a diving suit (a necessity when one might be trading with mermaids or robbing the halls of an undersea king), and of course the replacement of gold with shells and amber.

Each pirate crew will have its own document, usually called the Articles, Charter Party, or Custom of the Coast. It will lay out the duties of each crew member, and punishments for failing in them. It will also cover the division of plunder, and give amounts of compensation for wounds.

Each crew member will have to sign or make their mark on the document, then swear an oath to abide by them. The oath is usually taken on an axe, crossed swords, or the skull of a former crew member or enemy. The document itself is posted in a prominent place, such as the door of the grand cabin.

New recruits from captured ships sometimes sign the Articles, either voluntarily or under threat.

Carpenters and navigators, being rare and valuable, are likely to be forced to sign Articles under duress. Those who do not sign are likely to fare better if the crew is captured and sent to trial.

Pirates on the verge of capture or surrender usually burn their Articles or throw them overboard, to prevent the papers being used against them at trial. However it is likely that a typical document might run as follows:

I The Captain to have Authority during times of Battle; at all other times, Affairs of Moment to be decided by a Majority of the Crew.
II Every Crew Member to have a vote in Affairs of Moment; equal title to the fresh Provisions, or strong Liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a Scarcity makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a Retrenchment.
III The Lights and Candles to be put out at eight o'clock at night: if any of the Crew, after that Hour still remain inclined for drinking, they are to do it on the open deck.
IV To desert the Ship or their Quarters in battle, will be punished with death or marooning [to be 'marooned' is to be left on a small island or unexplored coast, with a minimum of provisions.]
V No striking one another on board, but all Quarrels to be ended on Shore, to first blood. The Punishment for striking to be Sov's Law. [Sov's Law, otherwise known as Sod's Law or, more formally, Seti's Law or Sovereign's Law, is a flogging. This is considered most humiliating, associated as it is with slavery.]
VI If any of the Company shall steal any Thing to the Value of five shells, they shall be marooned or hanged. For theft of less Value, they shall suffer what Punishment the Majority of the Company see fit.
VII Any of the Company who does not keep their Arms fit for an Engagement, or neglects their Business, shall be cut off from their Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Company shall think fit.
VIII If any of the Company shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement, shall have 400 Shells; if a Limb, 800.
IX The one that sees a Sail first, shall have the best Sword or Bow aboard of her.

A common punishment for minor offenses is to be given the 'Dog Watch' or the 'Graveyard Watch'. This means that the malefactor must keep lookout while most of the crew is asleep. The Dog Watch is from sunset until midnight, while the Graveyard Watch is from midnight to sunrise.

Some pirate crews carry a Letter of Marque (sometimes called a Letter of Marque and Reprisal) from a particular government or noble. In theory, this gives them official sanction to plunder ships of hostile nations. Thus the crew, if captured, should be treated as prisoners of war, not tried and hung as criminals. In return the crew is required to give up a portion of their plunder to their patron. Some crews who carry Letters of Marque style themselves privateers rather than pirates. Note that Teleleli is so faction-ridden that a Letter of Marque originating there would be of no value.

A Letter of Marque is no guarantee. It will be much more useful if the crew in question has a relatively honourable reputation, and has refrained from plundering neutral ships (or even the ships of the land they supposedly fight for, as has happened). Naturally all sides tend to honour their own Letters of Marque more than others; but some pirates have been executed by their own side.

Pirate crews vary greatly in their sense of honour, or lack of it. Some only rob the wealthy, rather like Captain Mission in our own world. At the other extreme, there are low rogues who will slaughter or enslave all on board after accepting their surrender. Most pirate crews prefer their victims to surrender, for practical if not moral reasons. There is a widespread practice of flying a flag featuring a skull and crossbones or an hour-glass, indicating that the pirates will slaughter all opposition if they do not surrender. The skull and crossbones is a symbol of the God of Unnatural Death, while the hour-glass is said to indicate that time is running short. Likewise most pirates will free any slaves they find, and show little mercy for slavers, if only because they increase the size of their crews thereby, and because the feeding and guarding of slaves is outside of their expertise. Those who style themselves privateers will usually at least make pretence of civilised behaviour (which might be worse for slaves, should the privateers decide to honour the property rights of their masters).

There are a few pirate crews whose 'rules of engagement' are not readily explicable. For example one ship is captained by an ancient computer. Some say the computer resembles a cat made of metal. Others say that it resembles a human fetus in a jar, suspended in liquid. In any case, the computer believes that the world, being flat, is in constant danger of tipping over. To prevent this, the ship sails around under its direction, taking objects from one place and putting them in another. Thus a ship that crosses their path will find themselves interrogated as to their destination. They may find themselves loaded down with precious jewels (the pirates always give something that the recipient will want to keep). On the other hand they may find a certain portion of their cargo thrown into the sea, or taken to be given to a ship going somewhere else. Sometimes even this is not enough, and the ship is sunk, and the captured crew taken to some far island and marooned. The pirates are, at least, humane within the bounds of their mission, and will not slaughter those who surrender, nor mistreat prisoners.

Likewise, the crew of the Peony only plunder red items. They will let any ship go unharmed if it has no red items, but they will kill without mercy anyone who hides so much as a piece of red underwear from them. One of their crew carries a detailed colour chart, so that they may distinguish red items from pink, brown or orange.

Other well-known pirate captains include the halfling Lorena Hobbit, and the talking sheep Baa-Baa Rossa. The latter is rumoured to be related to the famous talking sheep bard, Lady Baa-Baa.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Downunderworld

The Downunderworld is a vast and gloomy underground desert. It is said that it was once a realm of forest and grass, and was called the Land of Long Golden Twilight. It became a wasteland, they say, because its king was wounded by a magical knife. The knife is still in him, and has rendered him immortal and yet unable to heal. The stated location of the wound varies; some say his feet, others his leg, yet others the male organs. All agree that he is crippled, and some say blind as well. The location of this king is likewise disputed.

Some will say that the pleasant realm that the land once was was not destroyed, but moved 'elsewhere'. Where this might be is obscure. The king is sometimes said to have gone with his realm.

It has been colonised by creatures from another world, called Australiens. They found it already occupied, but took over anyway under the doctrine of 'Terror Nullius', or 'no worries'. The Australiens were prisoners on their own world, and they are not at ease in their new home. Outside of the capital, Middle Perth, they fear the native wildlife, which includes kangaorcs (tamed and used for transport in the city, but wild everywhere else), wombalrogs, entalyptuses, kookabarrow wights, flaming galahs, frill-necked wizards and the Hoop-Snake. The interior is also overrun with feral robots. These creatures were brought by the Australiens as servants. However several escaped, and since they are able to make more of themselves their population has exploded. Settlements of any size are protected by robot-proof fences. These fences consist of a ring of insoluble logic puzzles which, it is hoped, robots will be unable to resist attempting to solve.

Despite all these terrors, the Australiens are more afraid of those of their own number who go mad, and of the country itself, which is said to be the agent of their madness. For example they speak of four brothers, all with the same name, who are so clever their earlobes drag on the ground (long earlobes being considered a sign of wisdom). One is painted black, one red, one green and the last blue. They crave blood more than anything else, but fear the inevitable punishment that would follow murder. So they had a witch cast the illusion of a billabong (a lake) on their home. When thirsty travellers discover the illusion, they inevitably swear and curse. The brothers then spring forth, challenging the one who insulted their home to a duel. The poor traveller can then be slaughtered with at least some pretence of legality. And slaughtered they will be, for each brother posesses weapons of unparalleled quality. One has a woomera (a spear-thrower) which can send a spear all the way to a tree on the horizon, and so hard that it lodges right through the trunk.

Australiens measure distance in jars; the distance being the time it takes a traveller on a cart to drink one jar of beer.

They are much concerned with status, which they call Good Honour (pronounced "good onya").

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Arrow-Sellers.

This shop is run by a gnome couple. As well as normal bows and arrows, it has a fine selection of specially-made arrows with different heads. Some examples of their stock are:
  • Handcuff arrows, for non-lethally subduing an opponent.
  • Boxing glove arrows, which may have the same effect. Some monsters, when hit with a boxing glove arrow, have felt sorry for the wielder of such a ridiculous weapon, and allowed them to depart in peace. At other times it might cause the victim to fatally under-estimate their opponent.
  • Jiu-Jitsu arrows: the head is a glass vial containing an imp skilled in martial arts. A disadvantage of these arrows is that they sometimes fail to shatter on impact. If this happens, and close combat ensues, the reader is advised to be careful not to step on the vial.
  • Oxygen-mask arrows. These arrows have to be successfully fired at someone's face to be of any use. I suggested to the gnomes that they could just make the masks to be applied by hand, but they became very upset, and refused to serve me. They now have a policy of not selling these to anyone unless they buy a bow at the same time or bring one to the shop. They will also refuse to serve anyone who they suspect will try and remove the masks from the arrow.
  • Arrows which split into nets.
  • Water arrows. These are mostly useful for putting out fires at long range, either for fire-fighting purposes, or to douse torches so that one may creep unobserved. They are also effective against certain creatures such as Fire Elementals.
  • Bent arrows, for shooting around corners. These can be combined with any head listed here.
  • 'Arrows' which are in fact highly disciplined snakes, which wrap around the target on impact.
  • Arrows whose head is a vial containing concentrated logic, a substance which acts as an antidote to magic.
  • Arrows whose head is a quick-spreading moss. The moss allows one to walk quietly.
The place has an unsavoury reputation, due to rumours that the owners are associated with the Seventh-Day Inventists.

Friday, August 20, 2010


When a young man or woman dies, it sometimes happens that their beloved disappears, and their grave is found opened. Many say that the dead one has risen as a vampire, and convinced their lover to watch over them when they sleep. Others say that there are certain sorcerers who approach the bereaved, offering to bring their beloved back to life. The price of doing so is said to be entry into an unspeakable bargain.

It seems that these tales are associated with the young, and particularly with those whose passion is intense but not crowned with the act of congress. This suggests to me that vampirism may be caused by a build-up in the brain of negative orgone, the etheric sexual energy discovered by the psychologist Wilheim Reich.

Vampires' innards rot like those of inanimate corpses, until they are entirely liquid. Thus a fetid bile will burst forth in place of blood when a vampire is wounded. Their blood does not clot as that of the living, but the skin will be whole after a day of sleep. They are not troubled by infection, perhaps because they themselves are a form of infection.

It is well-known that vampires only go forth in the hours of darkness. Some say that the cause of vampirism (be that cause a sickness or a living thing) comes from the empty gulfs of space, which is why sunlight destroys it. It might be wondered why they do not make use of Darkness Elementals to render bright places safe for them. I put this question to one that we captured on the Abysmal Plain. But he said
"I will not answer. No, not though the Enemy [for so he called the sun] burn my eyes."

It is said that some vampires have only a head, and 'ride' headless corpses, exchanging one for another as a human might change horses, or clothes.

Some say that vampires appear less and less human as they get 'older'; although it is also said that very long-undead vampires can cast a glamour, so that to all but the magically-inclined they appear in the prime of health and beauty. Others say that vampires of monstrous appearance, and those that appear human, are different breeds of vampire.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Nostalgia of Things Unknown...

The nostalgia of things unknown, of lands forgotten or unfound, is upon me at times. Often I long for the gleam of yellow suns upon terraces of translucent azure marble, mocking the windless waters of lakes unfathomably calm; for lost, legendary palaces of serpentine, silver and ebony, whose columns are green stalactites; for the pillars of fallen temples, standing in the vast purpureal sunset of a land of lost and marvellous romance. I sigh for the dark-green depths of cedar forests, through whose fantastically woven boughs, one sees at intervals an unknown tropic ocean, like gleams of blue diamond; for isles of palm and coral, that fret an amber morning, somewhere beyond Cathay or Taprobane; for the strange and hidden cities of the desert, with burning brazen domes and slender pinnacles of gold and copper, that pierce a heaven of heated lazuli.

Clark Ashton Smith.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Temple of Many Gods

This Telelelene temple worships a different god or goddess every year. Over several months the temple holds a series of competitions, where anyone can show their grace and skill in singing and dancing. Eventually a winner is chosen. The winner is sacrificed, and ascends to godhead. They are worshipped for the next year, and then forgotten when the new competition begins. The competition, which attracts entrants from many islands as well as the city itself, is called Telelelene Idol.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Currency and Haggling

There are three main forms of currency in Teleleli.

The most common is the cowrie shell. The second-most common is the wooden 'salt', the only actual coin. It is worth one-tenth of a shell. The third is the amber, or 'namber' in common parlance, which as the name would imply is a blob of amber of a certain weight. It is worth ten shells.

The Telelelenes say "why aren't people who live on the beach rich?" where we would say "a fool and his money are soon parted."

The cowrie shell is also used where we would use dice. A handfull are thrown, and the number falling 'mouth' upward dictates the total.

Most goods of more than a few shells will not be sold at a fixed price. Rather, the price will be fixed by bargaining.

Merchants will generally start by quoting two or three times the price they expect to get. So the traveller who is pressed for time should expect to pay far more.

One should allow about one minute of bargaining for each shell in the final price. Unusually determined and skilful bargaining, which might result in a saving of one-third, is likely to take five times as long.

Shops generally open for a minimum of six hours (three in the morning, a break of several hours for siesta, then three in the evening) and a maximum of ten hours. Thus, for more expensive items, negotiation might take place over more than one day.

Note that dwarves have a reputation for having lots of money, but also have a reputation for being prepared to bargain forever if need be. These essentially cancel each other out.

Merchants will start at a higher price if they think the customer can afford to pay more. However they will also refuse to bargain if they think the customer is too poor to afford the item. Thus the ability to appear wealthy or poor depending on the desired purchase is extremely useful. However the law forbids dressing as a member of another social class, and although these laws are hardly enforced, merchants will take advantage of them if they can (with utter hypocrisy, given that their fondest hope is to buy their way into the nobility).

Haggling is traditionally conducted over glasses of strawberry tea, which are provided by the merchant.

Monday, August 16, 2010


These items may be found in various deep forests, far from civilisation, where any inhabitants will regard them with terror.

They are masks of jade and silver, life-like and beautiful in their contours, but with features of one who strains to hold in screams or vomit, and set with cowrie shells and jewels cut to resemble the disfigurements of disease.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The sage Hekabe, called Hekabe the Unbelievable, claimed that every hundred years or so cats gather in this disused park, and shed their skins to reveal their true forms.

Hekabe was widely considered mad. Her health deteriorated, and at last she was found dead of a heart attack in an alley. Foul play was ruled out, since no one ever went into the alley other than stray cats.

Technology of Teleleli

The traveller who ranges far may encounter any kind of technology and culture. However in Teleleli and the islands around the prevailing level of civilisation is comparable to that of the Dark Ages, with some noteable exceptions:
  • Due to the presence of underwater civilisations and treasures, diving suits have been developed to a high standard.
  • Map-making is almost unknown. Places do not always keep their relative positions as they do in our world, although I do not know whether this be cause or effect. The stars are somewhat more reliable, but less so than in our world. Nor do compasses work.
  • Robotics has been developed to a more advanced stage than in our world. However, as with much of the sciences, it is generally secret knowledge held by individual wizards or craftspeople, or lost to the ages, rather than a shared art. Robots are often made of unusual material such as wood; a necessity due to a scarcity of metals, and a possibility due to magic. For example the grandma scientist Agnes Goodwife knits robots from wool. Her arch-enemy Madame Zed is an evil grandma scientist, who sews raggedy androids. It is possible that some of these creations may have made their way to our own world. My thoughts are drawn to the chess-playing Mechanical Turk of the 17th century, and of the strange case of Doctor Joseph Bell, that 'tireless', 'cold', 'machine-like' individual who provided the inspiration for the fictional Sherlock Holmes.
  • The catapult has been developed to a fine precision unknown in our world. However, since the obscure mathematics necessary to use them is the monopoly of the gnomes, it is used for transport rather than war (nets being set up at destination points to catch travellers). The exception is a giant catapult in the centre of the city, which is used for executions. This is reserved for the worst criminals, since many religions hold that an evil-doer must atone by spilling their own blood, and this method of execution draws no blood.
  • In matters of hygiene the Telelelenes are more advanced than the Dark Ages. Most houses are connected to the sewerage system. There is a built system of water supply, however it delivers water to wells rather than directly to homes.
The most advanced weapon is the crossbow, and the reader should hope never to see such a thing, since it will be wielded by the chief guard of some wealthy noble, or the assassin sent to kill them.

The best weapon to which the traveller is likely to have access is the "you-me", or longbow.

One wonders at times whether more modern devices have not found their way here, or been invented by some insane wizard or secretive dwarf, and been treated as items of magic, or wonders of the Great Race, which in the minds of most is the same thing. For example, was the legendary Staff of Burrowing Doom some kind of rifle? If we could examine the remains of one of the Three Princes on the Mountain, the victims of the fabled Wand of Maggots (or Wand Which Brings Forth Rot), which caused deadly parasites to blossom within the body like maggots in meat, would we find not maggots but bullets?

Because of the scarcity of metal many swords in Teleleli are made of forms of glass or ceramic, much harder than those known in our world. Some 'swords' are really wooden clubs, with teeth set in them to make them sharper; often those of sharks or crocodiles. It is said that the fiercer the beast was in life, the better the sword. It is also said that the one who kills the animal to make the sword should never use it, since the spirit of the beast will take revenge. A sword is said to be helpless against the species its teeth come from, unless the animal was unusually evil and vicious. Thus warriors will carry two swords, with teeth from separate species. Rumour speaks of magic swords which use the teeth of vampires, dragons or the like. Other rumours speak of a doom which is on the world; that one day all the animals will rise and kill, and no sword of teeth will allow itself to be lifted in defence.

I could find no-one who admitted to making or owning a sword made with teeth from more than one animal. The idea of doing so has a strong, but ill-defined, feeling of ill-omen about it.

Another reason to avoid metal swords, for those who would travel to the underworld or other magical lands, is that such weapons tend to be effected by the presence of magic, eventually developing a will of their own.

Armour is often constructed of bamboo, or the same glass and ceramic used for swords, although the tropical climate does much to render armour of any kind impractical. For further information the traveller should visit You've Got Mail, or another armoury.

This lack of precious metals might be explained by the belief of the ancient Germanic tribes that dragons harden their otherwise soft underbellies by sitting on piles of gold, absorbing its royal essence (and thereby gradually turning the gold to silver, and finally copper). It could be that some wise king of the Great Race saw the connection, and banished gold using some unknown power.

And indeed some say that Zam-Zammah, the great green-bronze dragon from out of space, declared Teleleli too poor to conquer and, on being told that it was the greatest and richest city in the world, moved on to parts unknown. But others say that Zam-Zammah was not an animal, but a machine of war come to life. And still others say that dragons are liars.
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